Patriots players take advantage of bye week

563400.jpg

Patriots players take advantage of bye week

FOXBORO -- With a bye week's worth of practices about to conclude on Wednesday, it's time to look at what's in store for the Patriots during their next couple days off.

Coach Bill Belichick held practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, following Sunday's win over the Dallas Cowboys. The reason for those practices, he said on Wednesday, was to give his players an opportunity to improve their game in a few areas. Hence, the "situational" tone of both practices this week.

Following Wednesday's practice, Belichick said he'll then give his players an opportunity to "get some rest, relax a little bit, and get away from football for a couple of days."

Then, they'll return to Gillette Stadium next week to prepare for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"I'll definitely take a little bit of a break here in the next couple of days," said Belichick on Wednesday. "Slow it down a little bit, and see if I can get caught up."

As for the players, some -- like Wes Welker -- will go home to be with family, and some -- like Matthew Slater -- will stick around New England.

"I'll probably be in here every day," said Slater. "Still trying to get healthy and just take care of my body, and enjoy a little down time."

During that down time, most of the players who spoke on Wednesday said they would watch football on Sunday. Tight end Rob Gronkowski said that he'll "definitely" be watching the Pittsburgh Steelers' game, mainly because that's who the Patriots will play following the bye.

Other than that, Gronk said he plans on hitting the weights and "getting his body right" during the break.

While home in Oklahoma City, Welker plans to also take advantage of a few days off. But he admits, this isn't time to party.

"It's not like spring break," said Welker. "It's more of everybody understanding that you still have your workout and still do some of those things, but you're not out there running routes and doing all those things that you do on a daily basis."

As for the coaching strategies, Belichick talked about the "misconceptions" of how much more work is put in during the bye week, including advanced scouting.

"We have people in our organization that work on, not this weeks opponent but next weeks opponent, but starting this week so that when we finish with that game," said Belichick. "We have a lot of information thats already prepared the film is broken down, the reports are written on personnel and tendencies and we have individual reports and films of each individual player, how they play, their strengths, their weaknesses, their tendencies, things like that, so thats already there. So we do that on a weekly basis anyway.

"Next week, well start working on the team after Pittsburgh the next week. We kind of have that weekly time by certain people in our organization. Theyre always a week ahead. And then there are others of us that are focused on the week that we have and really dont get to that next team until were done with the team were currently competing against. Now, will some of those people maybe get a little bit ahead of getting ahead? Im sure they will. But thats kind of how it works. Were on sort of the same routine every week."

Belichick also said that the same goes with self-scouting.

"I think it is a little of a misconception," said Belichick. "We dont just self-scout during the bye week. We do it on a weekly basis. We look at our games that we feel like our opponents are looking at, whatever that constitutes. What are they seeing? Does that affect what we want to do? Do you want to change that? Do we want to not change it? And if we do want to change it, how do we want to change it? Thats something that you do every week.

"The bye week, you have a little bit more time. Maybe if you wanted to not just look at the description of the plays or a written report of the plays, maybe you actually go to those plays and say, Okay, not what do they have on paper, but let me actually go look at the plays and see whats happening on our third down or our inside runs or our outside runs or our kickoff returns or whatever it is. You have an awareness of that on a weekly basis anyway. You know what youve been doing the last couple weeks. You definitely sit down at some point during the week and look at that. How many times have we called this in this situation? Whats our run-pass breakdown? Whats our blitz breakdown? How many left returns have we run? How many right returns have we run? What tendencies are we forming? Again, tendencies are like anything else, when its 50-50, 60-40, 65-35, how hard can you bank on 60-40? But when its 90 percent or 95 percent that certain things are happening, thats pretty predictable.

"And sometimes its okay," added Belichick. "Look, Nolan Ryan is on the mound, hes going to throw a fastball. Thats no secret. Is he better off throwing a fastball than a change up? Yeah. Hes going to throw a fastball. Lets see who can hit it. I dont say you have to change up all the time. You just have to know what youre doing. If you want to say, Okay, they know its coming, its our best thing, were going to do it anyway, lets see if they can stop it,' thats alright. You just have to know what youre doing. If you say, Well, we think theyre not going to adjust to it, and they do because its something you do all the time, then you dont want to put yourself in that position. But its not something that just happens during the bye week. It happens every week. Could you take a little longer look at it during the week? Yeah, absolutely and thats a good thing to do. But its something we do on a weekly basis."

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.